Greg and Ryan Representing
The Round Up with the Louw Brothers for 2011
The Surfski series was one of the first events brothers Ryan and Greg took part in this year and won 2 of the 4 races in the Series.
The brothers grabbed headlines as a new record field took part in the first leg of the doubles ski Discovery Sunglass Hut Surfski Series, leading from start to finish claiming victory in the series opener, the Algoa FM Spectator Classic.
The K4 trials were held over a number of Camps and eventually got cut down to 2 boats which would ultimately fight it out for the spot to race the World Cup circuit in Europe. Ryan was eliminated due to health reasons and was unable to train for the remainder of the trials. However, Greg went through to the final 8 which would fight it out at the SA Trial.
The SA Trial was up next and with much anticipation on the new combinations that were formed, everyone was eager to see how it would all pan out. Greg raced the K4 1000m with the crew, PW Basson, Gavin White Grant van der Walt and Greg. They completely dominated the event and it was later decided by the selectors to only send this team to the World Cups for the K4 1000m.
Greg and Ryan raced the K2 200m the following day and were unlucky to come 2nd by 0.4 of a second, this was extremely close taking into account Ryan’s health situation, but because of the selectors lack of confidence in his level of fitness (Glandular Fever), it was decided that Ryan remain in the Squad, but stay in South Africa and work on my fitness and Strength.
SA’s was good as always and Ryan managed to rack up some medals along the way. Greg after being selected to race the K4 was limited to race that event only and they won it quite convincingly. Ryan teamed up with some other combinations to claim a silver and a gold in the K2 and K4 200m races.
The World Cups took place in the Czech Republic and Germany. In Germany, Greg raced in the K1 200m and after a really tough heat and Semi-Final made it into the C Final which he won. He then raced the K4 1000m and also had a really tough heat and Semi. It is the Olympic qualification year and every country is really focused on qualifying their boats so the level of competition at the World Cups is really tough. They progressed to the B Final and managed to get an 8th which they were not that happy with. Last was the K1 4x200m, this an exciting event as all relays are. Greg and his team made it into the A Final. They were looking good for a medal, but unfortunately came up short and ended up 5th. Overall it was a good Weekend.
Sprint World Championship 2011
The World Champs was held in Szeged (Hungary) which is undoubtedly the paddling capital of the world. The South African team went over to Hungary a month before the event to train and acclimatise. Hungary came out in full force to support their athletes with crowds of over 40 000 spectators each day.
The grand stand was 200m long and there were spectators on the grass embankment all the way to the 1000m mark. “It was amazing to race in front of a crowd this big.”-Ryan
The racing did not go as well as Ryan had hoped. On race day he only managed to go
0.5 of a second faster than his World cup times. The only problem was that the rest of the world had improved by even more than this. Ryan will be competing at All Africa Games at the start of next month and will be his last chance to qualify for the Olympics.
South Africa also put a relay team together for the 4 X 200m. They did very well ending up 6th in the World, considering all the big names they ended up beating. The link below is of their relay race. All the racing was live on Eurosport.
All African Games
After a long season of sprinting Kayaks around the globe, there remained one last mountain to climb, All Africa Games.This was is a sense the Grand Finale as it was the last opportunity for any South African to qualify a spot for the London Olympics. To qualify a spot for London 2012 is a difficult task and it takes something of an extraordinary nature to do so. The SA Sprint team left on the 4th of September for the All Africa Games in Mozambique.
Greg started with the heats and semis in the 200m event. He moved easily through the initial rounds until he reached the All Africa 200m Final. Greg pulled it all out of the bag and finished a convincing First Place which dubbed him the 200m African Champion, the fastest man in all of Africa. Unfortunately with only a little celebration it was back to business and time to focus on the Olympic Qualifier. Greg had to race the 200m again but this time with different stakes. He was now All African Champion and now had the daunting task of qualifying the only available Olympic spot for South Africa.
Greg again took line honours in the 200m Olympic Qualifier and qualified for the London Olympics. The only catch is this has to be approved by SASCOC and he is still awaiting his outcome. Greg is also the only Kayaking South African man to qualify a spot for the London Olympics. It has been a year of highs and lows, but to end the season victorious is a sweet satisfaction in its own.
The Fish River Canoe Marathon
The Fish River Canoe Marathon has once again come and gone, Greg and I both competed. I competed on a more sociable level while Greg was fighting it out with the big guns.
Friday morning was upon us and as per usual we were up at 4am doing the final race preparations. Greg teamed up with fellow 200m sprinter Mike Arthur, so as was expected they had more than enough speed on the water. The question was whether or not they had the reserves in the tank to keep it up for 3hours.
The race started and Greg and Mike found themselves in a comfortable second place throughout Day1. Behind them however a chance pack of 4 had formed and were hunting them down. They managed to finish the first day in second place with a 30 second buffer. Day2 started and they took off out of the blocks hoping to extend their small lead early on in the race. Unfortunately, with all the 200m sprint training Day2 seemed a lot tougher than was expected and Greg and Mike lost 2places and ended a credible 4th place. All in all a good result taking the entire season into account.
I decided to paddle with my girlfriend as my main objective at the moment is to rack up the miles to build a good base for the upcoming season. We had an awesome race and finished 6th in the Mixed doubles.
It was a great weekend and a great race.
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